Desert Strength Academy Aids Riverside County’s At-Risk Youth
Respect is one of those intangible qualities that is difficult to teach. Most of us grasp its importance and exhibit respect from personal experience, but not everyone has positive examples from which to draw and use. At-risk youth are most vulnerable to this void in their lives, both in showing respect and earning it. Enter the Desert Strength Academy, Riverside County’s Probation Department program to give 80 youth a weeklong day-camp experience that teaches them teamwork, communication skills, positive interaction with adults and law enforcement and the importance of respect. There is also a parent component to foster greater parenting skills and strengthen families.
The youth who participate are eager to return and report better self-esteem which translates into better decision making. More tangible are the results for these youth who are on the cusp of entering the Juvenile Justice system. More than 80 percent of those who go through the academy never see the inside of a courtroom or have future contact with law enforcement.